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Director Richard Linklater on His New Hulu Series, "Up to Speed"


Ever since 1991's Slacker, Richard Linklater (above, right) has been the voice of the opt-out generation, telling the stories of the disenfranchised, the disengaged, the disillusioned, and the straight-out weird, with flicks like Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, and Waking Life.

Even after venturing into the mainstream with fare like School of Rock and Bad News Bears, Linklater maintains a distinctly non-Hollywood attitude, preferring to base his operations out of his native Texas. Now he's coming out with a Hulu travel series called Up to Speed (premiering August 9) with sometime-collaborator Speed Levitch (above, left), in search of quirky landmarks, monuments, and sites that everyone else has forgotten.

• • •

DETAILS: So what's your favorite ignored monument so far?

Richard Linklater: In Chicago, there's this random Roman column that Mussolini donated in the thirties during the day and a half that Chicago and Fascist Italy were on the same page. I'm sure people bicycle past it all the time and think it's millennia old. The most amazing thing about it is it's still there.

DETAILS: How much of the show is Linklater, and how much of it is Speed?

Richard Linklater: In Speed's mind, anything can be a monument, like when we go to this memorial to the Spanish-American War. But Speed talks all about the woman on top of the monument, who posed for this memorial, and what her life was like. She's actually more interesting than this 100-plus-year-old battle. You can drop Speed anywhere, and within 36 hours he'll just learn the culture, he'll focus on the ignored, the left-behind. He's this really positive life force.

DETAILS: Why did you decide to go with Hulu?

Richard Linklater: I don't know if this show would fit in the cable format. There's too much history for a comedy network, and it's too funny for a historical station. Hulu let it be what we wanted it to be.

DETAILS: Are we going to eventually see Linklater's monumentally ignored Texas?

Richard Linklater: We'll definitely get to it at some point, it's just too big for a single episode.

DETAILS: Does today's economic climate of haves and have-nots make you think differently about Slacker 20 years later?

Richard Linklater: I don't think it's really that much different. Slacker was in the tail end of a depression, so it's probably not that different than today. Slacker just captures one moment of a continuum of society.

DETAILS: When my friends heard that there was a third movie in the Before Sunrise/Before Sunset series coming out, the jokes started flying about what the new title would be—

Richard Linklater: Oh yeah? Tell me.

DETAILS: Well, it devolved into putting Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in an old-age home, so the titles were things like Before Naptime and Before the Early-Bird Dinner.

Richard Linklater: Ha, that's a good one. Yeah, we were kind of begging for it in both titles.

DETAILS: What's the silliest third title someone's proposed to you?

Richard Linklater: Before We Kill Each Other, where they'd be having this big fight.

DETAILS: Tell me a Richard Linklater-Art Linkletter mix-up story.

Richard Linklater: There's never been a mix-up, but my mom's name is Diane Linklater, and Art Linkletter's daughter, the one who jumped out of a building, was Diane Linkletter. It's kind of morbid, but that always fascinated me as a kid.

• • •

—Michael Y. Park is a writer living in New York City and a regular contributor to Details.com.

Also on Details.com:
Q&A: Richard Linklater (2009)
Q&A: Morgan Spurlock
Q&A: Peter Berg

Photo: Dana O'Keefe/Hulu
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